If The Shoe Fits

He searched all over the house. Where had he left his favorite sneakers? He continued to look and slowly, a voice started to sound in his head.

“I am tired of tripping over these shoes,” his father bellowed, “Next time I do, I will nail them to the trees in the back yard.”

His mind raced, “Surely he couldn’t have. I worked all summer mowing lawns to earn the money to buy these sneakers because dad said l had to earn the money myself for expensive sneakers like that. And I did it – I feel like I now fit in. The other kids had actually started to talk to me. No, he couldn’t.”

He ran to the back door, “NO!”

His heart sank. There they were. In anger, he went and got a claw hammer and stomped out the back door. Just as he neared the first shoe, he saw her. She was so small – so pretty – so focused. And then he heard the faint sound of baby birds crying out to be fed. He could not help but marvel at the sense of love and caring this little feathered mother showed for her hungry babies. Back and forth she went until each little mouth was silenced. Then she settled over them – protecting them from the world that they would have to face on their own soon.

And slowly, he thought about how hard his parents have worked to put a roof over the heads of their children, food on the table, clothes on their backs. And he realized how he took it all for granted. Now, when he wanted to be really mad at his dad, he understood the lesson he was trying to teach. With that, he turned and walked away.

He was suddenly encouraged, “Guess I can shovel snow this winter to get some new shoes.”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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    • Joel – Thanks for your comments. I am in a period of trials. Hazel fell on Jan. 5th helping to take down the Christmas tree at church and broke her hummerus bone at the shoulder. She is right handed and it is on her right side. So, I have to help her with tasks that we take for granted every day without much thought like just getting out of a chair. The only writing I have time for is organizing my sermons so I will be silent for a while. But maybe a break is needed. Thanks for asking and please keep Hazel in your prayers, my friend.

    • Len, I am sorry to hear about Hazel. I hope she recovers quickly There must be pressure and stress that is very. My wife and I went through it with each other and different times. I have not written in quite sometime. I may not write again. Take care of yourself, Len. We will keep Hazel in our prayers. We will keep Hazel in our prayers as well. If you need somebody to talk to please do not
      hesitate to call or write me. All my best.

    • Thank you, my friend. Your prayers are welcomed and fill my need right now. But, I will keep your offer in mind.

      And don’t give up on writing – that would make this world a bit darker and there is enough darkness in the world.

  1. An unmistakably relatable story, Len Sir, Thank You! Parents keen enough to inculcate the same sense of responsibility and pride in their children can do that a hundred different ways, if only they cared to look back at their own childhood first. It helps us gauge what goes on in our children’s mind when they face a dilemma, no matter how trivial.

    Your wisdom knows no bounds, and that’s one of the primary reasons I consider myself fortunate to be here, partaking of the same in abundance.

    Thanks once again, with warm regards!

    • Bharat – As always, your kind words humble me. The lessons we learn in our youth stay with us forever no matter how the lesson was taught. Today, it seems parents have forgotten this – and that is a shame. Thank you for adding your wisdom to this discussion.

    • Susan – So very kind of you to make that very kind comment. As you can imagine, I used storytelling to teach my girls, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren the lessons of life so they grow into wonderful, caring people. It has proven to be the best way to share without making them feel judged. Thanks.

    • And that’s so important, Len — not feeling judged. We can often learn when we’re allowed to be open to that learning … and not feel as though we’d done something wrong or been bad. Some of the best lessons I learned from my dad were by seeing how he acted with others, not by hearing him tell me how to act.

    • Susan – Another important part of helping to shape others was demonstrated by your dad – what you do speaks louder than what you say. Thanks for adding that insight to our discussion.

    • You are very welcome, Len. Yes, my dad taught me than he’ll ever know — unless, of course, he does know. I lost him 30 years ago, which is a hurt that will never really heal. But I will always be grateful for his guidance, spoken and unspoken.

    • Susan – Sorry for your loss but your father has an eternal presence here on earth because of the lessons he taught you and you now share with those you love. That is a legacy that I strive to leave – that is a legacy we should all try to leave. Thanks for allowing us to get to know you a little better. That is why I love this on-line community.

    • Thanks, Len. Sometimes losing a parent is really, really hard; losing my dad was. My mother (notice the difference in how I call her) was … a difficult woman at best, although she tried. She and I were just oil and water, not surprising since she and my dad adopted me when I was 3 days old. She wanted a princess, tea parties, tiaras and all; she got a wild kid, a true brat, a “I’m going to do things MY way” type of kid. She’s been gone (lived to 100) two years, and sad to say, I don’t miss her. My dad? Yeah. I talk to him a lot. Anyway.

      Here’s something I wrote a while back, when I lost my beloved Aunt Kit.

    • Susan – But I bet you learned that you needed to allow people to be themselves if you were ever going to have a sincere relationship. Like it or not, our parents influence us all our lives – we just need to fine the positive lessons to live by and pass on. Hope that helps. If not, just smile – it makes people wonder what you are up to.